Lowriders of Chicago

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On a recent crisp day in Chicago, at the intersection of Route 66 where the neighborhoods of Little Village and North Lawndale link up, photographers Luz Magdaleno Flores and Zoulee Fér organized an all-day event to celebrate lowrider culture. Along with several vintage lowriders on full display from the Viejitos and Ranflitas Car Club, among others, the event included a performance by Mariachi Cuatro Vientos, and sets by the hosts and local DJs Rampage, Hippo, and Wero. 

Artisans, jewelry-makers, sculptors, and vendors selling everything from zines to chola art, set up alongside stacks of tires, vehicles and other auto repair items inside the Quality Car shop on Ogden Avenue. Outside, to ward off the chill of the day, long lines formed for the hot food items being served by the famed Coogie’s Taco truck which sat alongside the building.

Did we mention the neighbor walking his goat on a leash?

Jose Calvo highlighted some of the day’s activities, characters and lowriders in this series of photos.

Where did lowriders originate? It seems to be a controversial topic for many. Some say Juárez, where pachucos were first photographed in the late 1930s, while others say it was in Los Angeles, when the movement first emerged in the 1940s. Either way, lowrider interest hasn’t waned and continues to be an essential part of Mexican and Chicano history, with events across the Americas and all the way to Japan, paying tribute to the car, the art, the fashion and its culture. 

I found some interesting pieces and historical anecdotes through some of these sources, but I encourage you to talk to your local lowriders to find out more. 

Lowrider History by David Arredondo

Did Chicanos Really Invent Lowriders, Or Was It Gabachos? by Gustavo Arrellano (OC Weekly)

Lowriting: Shots, Rides & Stories from the Chicano Soul by Santino J. Rivera.

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RANFLAS Organizer/Photographer Statements

Luz Magadaleno Flores 

“Soy Chicana de origen Mexicano born and raised in Oxnard, California and cruising the streets of Chicago for some time now. I started shooting fotos and designing print publications since my days in the high school newspaper. Lowriders are my favorite subject to Capture. I come from a lineage of upholsterers que tapizan de todo, caros were in and out of the shop, my dad and uncle would flip cars, and I remember saying to myself that I had to have one. Pues my first boyfriend beat me to it, he drove a 1950 Chevy Delux. 

Going to lowrider shows, dressing all pinup, and admiring the hoppers are some of my favorite memories in this lifetime. Shoutout to All For One Car Club in the 805! To my Brown & Proud Press Family for giving me a platform to share my work. And to the Chicago, New York, and other cities that keep the cultura alive. You will notice that I shoot with a variety of mediums. My favorite is my film camera pero I often shoot with my old ass iPhone or Nikon camera. It is my pleasure to collaborate with my homie Zoulee who is one of my favorite lowrider photographers in Chicago. Keep it trucha y bajito y suavecito x vida mi gente.” 

Zoulee Fér

“¡Hola! I am Zoulee Fér. Photography has been in my life since I can remember. Mi abuelo y tíos paternos eran fotógrafos para los turistas, en el Zócalo de la Ciudad De México. My mother also carried her Fuji Film camera everywhere. I really mean everywhere, that ‘s the one thing she brought de México cuando cruzó la frontera. De allí viene mi pasión por la Fotografía. 

El amor de carros viene de mi papá. No fue a la escuela para ser mecánico pero el amor era tan grande que se ponía a leer libros de carros. Así podía arreglar carros mientras acababa su profesión de Contador Público. Luego cuando emigró a los Estados Unidos así ganaba su dinero. He opened his own auto shop, I was in heaven. I organized & cleaned every single tool. I saw him rebuild an engine, paint cars, taking them from carcachas to beautiful masterpieces. The scent of car oil feels like home. So this zine is for them, specially for my Poppa. Thank you to my ancestors for sharing their love for ranflas y fotografía because now I get to share it with you.”

Featured image: JoseCalvo/Flickr

Sandra Treviño is a music journalist, DJ and radio host living in Chicago. Listen to her on the radio Friday afternoons on 91.1FM Vocalo and every second and fourth Monday at 6 PM CST on 105.5FM Lumpen Radio. she is also one half of the female selecta duo The Ponderers. #futurerootz #theponderers #djangelfuk

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